Scheming white collar workers helped send the UK’s benefit fraud bill up by £500 million last year.
Thousands of middle class Brits are feared to be using their respectable images to file bogus disability claims.
The Sun on Sunday obtained details of five professionals who stole more than £250,000 in total.
They include London beautician Carina Reid, 32, who was jailed for three years for pocketing £50,000 in benefits while travelling the world.
Dr Sandra Turnbull, 45, of Newcastle, took £22,000 in disability benefits due to “problems walking” — while posting snaps of her hiking and scuba diving on Facebook. She had to pay back the cash and got a community sentence.
And teacher Kelly Upton, of Burton, Staffs, was told to return the £15,000 she stole for a bad back.
They listed three and then got bored and stopped.
Welfare Minister Lord Freud warned: “The convictions highlight that there is nowhere to hide. Our investigators will catch ALL those who cheat the taxpayer. The convictions of these white-collar criminals who have abused the system highlight that there is nowhere to hide. It’s only a small minority of people, but we are clear that stealing from taxpayers is a serious crime which diverts funds from those in need and it will not be tolerated.”
This is bluster and Lord Freud knows it.
Benefit cheats are now costing the country £30 million a week in false claims, according to latest DWP figures.
Welfare fraud rose cost taxpayers £1.6 billion last year – up £500 million on 2014-15.
More of taxpayers’ money is now lost to fraud than the Foreign Office’s entire annual budget of £1.1billion.
Last year, 5,000 people from all walks of life were convicted of benefit fraud, with a further 6,000 given on-the-spot penalties.